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Re: George Raft

Posted: May 30th, 2012, 1:53 pm
by Western Guy
Oh my God, Allison, I would MUCH prefer to write fiction. I was offered a contract to write a bio on Jack Palance, and though I admire Jack, I just couldn't garner the enthusiasm to spend months digging up research, contacting people for interviews, etc. etc. for a book that conceivably would not make much money. Which is how I would approach a book like that. I wrote George Raft's bio because I really felt passionate about George, and didn't care much about earnings (good thing, too). Now my agent just signed a contract with a major N.Y. publisher for my latest Western which loooks to be incredibly lucrative (including, of course, the three book deal). I've been extremely fortunate with my Western books, with Booklist calling my second novel Montana Dawn "One of the Ten Best Westerns of the Decade". And I'll tell you: I had a ball writing it. Fiction requires imagination -- storytelling ability, and I feel that's where my writing skills lie. I'm maybe not the world's greatest writer, but I believe I can tell a good story --- and, surprising even to me, who has published horror, history, and biography, I think I've finally found my niche with frontier fiction. Now I've just got to buy myself a Stetson and bolo tie.

Westerns, of course, are an ebb and flow genre. I'm grateful that my publisher, one of the last of the majors to still focus on the genre, finds merit in my work.

Oh no, Allison. I own a DVD of The Oklahoma Kid. Actually it's a fun Western. Bogart's the cliche villain, even to being dressed all in black. Cagney . . . yes with the ten-gallon hat he does resemble a mushroom.

Bogartcomes across better than he did as the Mexican bandito John Murrell in Virginia City. But even that's enjoyable: Australian Errol Flynn battling Park Avenue H.B. Suspension of disbelief but not all bad.

Re: George Raft

Posted: May 30th, 2012, 3:06 pm
by charliechaplinfan
I have Virginia City here to watch, I didn't even realise it had Bogart in it, my interest in getting it was Flynn and Miriam Hopkins. I like Flynn in Westerns, he looks the part, he doesn't sound the part but he cuts such a dash. I'd love to read a good book on Flynn that gets past the legends and frequently quoted dialliance and indiscretions and tries to get to the man, I think there was much more to him than the 'in like Flynn' roisterer, there was an intelligent man somewhere that often gets forgotten.

I've changed my mind, I will watch Oklahoma Kid just to see Jimmy Cagney look like a mushroom. There's only one film I've struggled watching Cagney in and that's One, Two, Three, I felt he shouted his way through, not his fault and a pity because it took a huge effort to play that part.

I've always had the impression that writing a well researched biography is a time intensive and is rarely followed up with a tidy profit. Jack Palance, the second best looking man to grace the movies according to my mother, number one being Charles Bronson? and I share these genes!! He's a good actor but I'm not sure of the market. I'm so glad you have got a good publishing deal which means you can devote your time to writing. Are your fiction books published on kindle? The reason I ask is that I'm a little addicted to mine for reading fiction but books with pictures, diagrams etc really need to stay as books. With electronic books there might be issues with copyright and the unscrupulous ripping off others works.

I'm not sure you caught my musings about the child that Raft might have had. These are the kind of things that work through my mind when I can't get to sleep :roll:

Re: George Raft

Posted: May 30th, 2012, 7:54 pm
by Western Guy
Hi Allison --

To hurry through your questions since I'm going to be breaking away from these sites for a bit to work on a book for which I've been paid for but haven't yet started to write. Don't know or have any knowledge of kindle at this point. For me, however, give me good old covers and paper.I do know that is how my latest book will be produced, and probably the follow-ups.

Interesting the Palace/Bronson comment. Both were of Ukrainian orgin, as am I. Even more interesting was how both of these fellas of Eastern European descent played native Americans -- and pretty darned convincingly.

Rory Flynn, Errol's daughter, is a friend of mine and one of the guests I lined up for an interview on ICONS. Definitely, she believes her father was much maligned. No saint was Errol, but there was much more to the man than has been printed by such journalistic patriots as the recently deceased tabloid expert whose name I won't even mention. But will offer his initials: C.H.

One, Two Three is actually quite a fun film with Cagney at full throttle. Interesting to compare Jimmy at that so-called end point of his career with the Jimmy of almost twenty years later in Ragtime. Interesting, I said? Really, the comparison is kinda sad. Made even more so when you watch Terrible Joe Moran. Still don't think I've recovered from that one -- remembering Jimmy at his prime. Too much a reminder of the potential ravages of old age.

But . . . on a more positive note: There is Ernest Borgnine. God bless him.

Re: George Raft

Posted: May 31st, 2012, 3:48 am
by charliechaplinfan
I know how much time message boards can take up if you let them. Please check in from time to time to let us know how you are doing.

You can tell Rory that there are many fans of Errol on this board and we seem to be of one opinion regarding his biographies. I think the biographer you referred to was the one who brought up the Nazi rumours. I do hope that someone writes a good biography, if Rory knows of one she would recommend, even if it's the book on his home in Mulholland drive, could you let me know, I'd love to have a good book on Errol in my collection.

As for the kindle, I'm afraid I love books that much, especially movie books that my book cases are bulging and I have a daughter who is starting her own collection, so all the fiction books are now being bought on kindle as I've no more shelf room.

I've just been sent Follow the Boys by my rental service. I'm going to have a good morning :D

I hope the muse of writing is sitting in your house right now and providing plenty of inspiration. I've very much enjoyed reading and talking about George Raft, I'm sure it will continue to run and run.

Re: George Raft

Posted: May 31st, 2012, 11:19 am
by RedRiver
My problem with ONE, TWO, THREE is that it's not THE APARTMENT. Not SOME LIKE IT HOT. From a director capable of such sophisticated comedy, this one seems forced and awkward. It's not a bad movie. There are some genuine laughs. It just doesn't have enough substance to fill the running time.

But why nit-pick? Not all of Shakespeare's plays are HAMLET. Steinbeck never matched GRAPES OF WRATH. They can't all be classics!

Re: George Raft

Posted: May 31st, 2012, 12:34 pm
by Western Guy
I really enjoy these Message Boards and definitely plan to drop in when I need to get away and refresh myself from my book writing - just as I did at the mind-numbing technical editor job I recently left. This site provided many doses of needed fresh air. Just want you to know that if I don't respond for a while, it's because I'll be working. Then there will be another I'm contracted to write. Wish this could have happened thirty years ago. But I suppose better late than never, though doubtful I'll ever reach Louis L'Amour's publishing numbers.

Yes, Charles Higham called Errol Flynn a Nazi and an anit-Semite. Did he also not write a book denigrating Walt Disney, basically making the same accusation? Then there's Darwin Porter. But his Bogart book is actually hilarious if you read it in the right mood.

Rory wrote her own book on growing up with Errol. Going on memory but I believe it is called "The Baron of Mulholland Drive". Self-published but really sheds a different light on Errol. A very good friend of mine, Steve Hayes, who wrote a two-volume series on "Googies" spends a lot of time in both books speaking of his friendship with Errol. I find Flynn fascinating and I LOVE his movies. Maybe not a great actor (though certainly not as dreadful as some have made him out to be), but the guy oozed charm and charisma. And really, what more does a Movie Star need?

Allison, I think you'll have fun with FOLLOW THE BOYS. George stars but the film is peppered with many great stars of the era. When you think of George topping this impressive cast list, it really gives you an indication of how big he still was at this point in his career.

I'll kind of argue with you, RedRiver. I see your point about ONE, TWO, THREE. But I personally class OF MICE AND MEN right up there with THE GRAPES OF WRATH.

Re: George Raft

Posted: May 31st, 2012, 1:30 pm
by charliechaplinfan
Yes, you must pop by from time to time, I will keep my thoughts rambling on this thread for you to check into now and again. I have quite a few Raft movies queued, I'll leave my impressions as I discover him one by one.

Follow The Boys, he died :cry: I wasn't expecting that, I really expected him to be found, how could such a nice guy have such a bad end. Wasn't it the silliest outfit that he had to wear when dancing with Vera Zorina? it completely stole the show and although it's origins probably date back to Valentino's tango, by today's standards it's not the most macho, especially as those trousers resembled a skirt. I loved the dance in the rain with Louis Prima's band. Isn't this the film he insisted on a loan out to Universal to make? Many stars, some of top calibre but he is the leading man and is never swamped although there is one scene I thought he played as a bit of a dud and that was when he was rehearsing Zorina at home, I didn't feel the gelled at that point. Maybe it's just me. It is a film I'll watch again, my favourite cameo, Orson and Marlene, I don't think Marlene is oftened bested but Orson does, he's even stealing the scenes behind her. I'm wondering if that is how the shows overseas were actually arranged and was there actually a Tony West?

I've added Rory's book to my wishlist at Amazon. I think Errol is a better actor, especially in later years than given credit for but he so often leans back on the rositerer, he never took it terribly seriously and perhaps thought he wasn't as good as others around him but I got to watch That Forsyte Woman recently and he's the best thing in a cast that includes Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon and Robert Young, he had the choice of the roles and chose Soames, he's excellent and you'd hope that on the back of that he'd get choicer roles but it didn't appear to happen.

Judging on the colourful actors that Jack Warner worked with I might check out a book on him, he certainly had the most troublesome, argumentative and sometimes alcoholic stars. Of all the studios I have a real fondness of Warners, I think they brought more reality to pictures than the others.

I like Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice And Men but couldn't watch a screen version of the later, it's too sad.

Re: George Raft

Posted: May 31st, 2012, 2:52 pm
by Western Guy
I agree. Didn't much care for the conclusion of Follow The Boys. Couldn't really see the point in Tony West dying. Interesting, out of all of George's co-stars, Vera Zorina was the least complimentary when she spoke of Raft, calling him "yucky". Still, they played well together. No, this isn't the film that Raft had hoped to make on loanout from Warners. That was a picture that would have seen him co-starred with Rosalind Russell. While at Warners George did make Broadway, which is actually closer to Raft's real life story than the later The George Raft Story.

Check out the interview with Cass Warner on the ICONS Radio site if you're interested in the behind-the-scenes story of Warner Brothers. Again, that was an interview I helped to arrange based on the documentary of the brothers she produced. Now there's a story filled with intrigue.

Re: George Raft

Posted: June 1st, 2012, 2:32 pm
by charliechaplinfan
I didn't think they had great chemistry in the scene where she's daring him to kiss her, I didn't much care for Vera Zorina, I don't think I've seen her in anything else. I did like the movie although some of the acts are dated today, I don't much care for Jeanette MacDonald but she was a huge star, WC Fields doesn't cut the mustard for me either but Marlene and Orson, that's casting. I thought George was the best thing about the film, perhaps making him die at the end was Hollywood's way of making the sacrifice as many ordinary men were doing in war but it doesn't play that well today, I kept imagining that he was going to be rescued.

I was planning to watch Scarface today but time just fell away, I've seen it only once before and it is my favourite of the gangster genre of that era. I read the segment in Todd McCarthy's book on Howard Hawks about the casting of George and Paul Muni, Muni's wife having great influence on him and helped convince him to take the part, I've read before that he relied a lot on his judgment. The casting of Ann Dvorak came about because Hawks had seen her trying to tempt George to dance with her when he didn't want to, she danced quite sexily in front on him and he changed his mind, Hawks remembered it and put it in the picture. I can't remember the movie that well, apart from Boris Karloff's death and that silly tacked on ending with Paul Muni which was among the extras. I must watch it again.

I've also got Souls at Sea on it's way from the rental service, can't wait to see the finger puppets, the more I think of it I think the mixture of Gary Cooper and George Raft is really good casting, in my mind they're very much opposites, apart from the roving way with the ladies of course :wink: . It's a big weekend here though, the Jubilee celebrations for us, my two kids are so excited and fit to burst. This morning we got up really early to get a place to watch the Olympic torch going past, everything seems to be happening at once. Film watching might have to go on hold for a few days.

Re: George Raft

Posted: June 1st, 2012, 9:27 pm
by feaito
How lucky to be able to rent Souls at Sea Ali, not available at all here... :roll:

Re: George Raft

Posted: June 2nd, 2012, 2:11 pm
by charliechaplinfan
It's surprising because it's Gary Cooper and George Raft, two big names together. Who makes these decisions :roll:

Re: George Raft

Posted: June 6th, 2012, 8:01 pm
by Gary J.
RedRiver wrote: My problem with ONE, TWO, THREE is that it's not THE APARTMENT.
You're right! It's not. It's funnier. THE APARTMENT is basically a drama. The satire of ONE, TWO, THREE may seem a bit dated today but for it's time it was dead on. In the same way that THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING, THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING hit it's mark depicting the paranoia of the day.

Re: George Raft

Posted: June 7th, 2012, 9:57 am
by charliechaplinfan
For me it was an issue of how loud Cagney was, I know they were building on how he was known to cinema audeinces, that rapid fire, noisy delivery but for my ears it was too much and I'm afraid I couldn't stick with it.

My Raft films have arrived, now I just have to send the noisy kids back to school, we are watching The Simpsons Movie for the umpteenth time at the moment.

Re: George Raft

Posted: June 7th, 2012, 12:34 pm
by Western Guy
Hey Allison - Checking in here regularly so please let me know your feelings on the Raft films - or feel free to PM me.

I agree about ONE, TWO, THREE. Although I enjoy ANYTHING with Jimmy, overall it is an overbearing film. Kudos to Cagney, though, for memorizing that complex dialogue and delivering it at such a rapid pace when he was into his 60s and pretty much burned out with acting.

Re: George Raft

Posted: June 7th, 2012, 1:29 pm
by charliechaplinfan
Yes, that's the only thing that made me stick with it, is it a hazy memory or was he not overly impressed with Horst Buchholz? I know he found the dialogue difficult but he was such a pro. He made one movie I didn't like out of a countless number.

I'll be going into withdrawal symptoms soon. It's always the same when the kids are home, they usually control the channels and stay up later and there's no chance of watching a movie without interuption, when they're at school I make sure I watch a film during the day. I've got lots of George to watch from all eras, I can't wait.